Every once in a while, the Grizzlies transcend greatness to produce a heartbreaking disaster of a moment that inevitably leads me to binge drink, sulk, or binge drink and sulk.
I'm not a good loser to begin with. For example, in a recent game of Risk, when my armies were almost conquered, I attempted a last ditch effort to trade my assets to a neutral opponent, not to save my own skin, but just to piss off my conqueror. The trade was so insultingly desperate and dishonorable, that my trade partner wouldn't accept, even though he had nothing to lose but his pride. This was a slight step up from knocking the board off the table to end the game.
Combine me being a sore loser with the Grizzlies being great at losing, and you have a match made in Grizz Country.
The Grizzlies' recent record-breaking playoff loss to the Clippers provides a historic entry into the annals of Grizzlies disappointments, but where does it stack up? Answering questions like these is how I spend my summer. Let's count down the 5 most disappointing moments in Grizz history because that will be fun.
To evaluate the most disappointing moments in Grizz history, I have assessed the expectations, the missed opportunity, and the psychological toll on the fans at the time of the event. This toll is very high as evidenced by this blog.
To give you an idea of what these criteria mean, consider 2 events that did not make the cut:
1) The 2003 LeBron James lottery: At the time, fans were resigned to losing the 2003 pick, which was #1 protected, due to the Grizzlies' low odds. There was only a brief period during the lottery when Grizz fans had glimmer of hope.
2) The 2011 playoff loss the the OKC Thunder: Game 7 and the triple OT Game 4 were both disappointing, but the Grizz still exceeded expectations by any standard. It's hard to be disappointed about the 2011 Grizzlies.
Both of these events were run-of-the-mill disappointments, and the Grizz live by a higher standard.
Here's the top 5:
5) The 2007 NBA Draft Lottery
You can't blame the Grizz for losing the 2007 NBA draft lottery. They did everything they could to produce the best possible outcome. They led the league with 60 losses, setting a franchise record for losses in post-Vancouver history. As a result, the Grizz had the best odds of winning a top pick. Also, Jerry West brought his lucky golf trophy to the selection process. A #1 pick for the Grizz in 2007 was preordained.
Not only that, but there were two consensus superstars in the 2007 draft, Kevin Durant and Greg Oden. At the time, winning the first or second pick was viewed by all as a ticket from mediocrity to a decade of winning and success. That presumption turned out to be 50% right, but that didn't impact our disappointment at the time.
The Grizzlies 'won' the fourth pick, and I didn't speak for 6 straight hours. My wife still complains about it.
4) The Selection of Hasheem Thabeet in the 2009 NBA Draft
At the time of Thabeet's selection, many were disappointed. Thabeet was high on most folks' radar for his 'bust' potential. Today, we can discuss Thabeet among the all time busts. The disappointment factor was increased when the Grizz barely missed on winning the #1 pick to take consensus superstar Blake Griffin and then selected Thabeet at #2 over several more desirable prospects, like Ricky Rubio, Tyreke Evans, and Stephan Curry. (James Harden turned out to be the correct choice, but wasn't a sure bet at the time.)
Grizz fans' acceptance of the Thabeet selection was similar to Star Wars fans' acceptance of the Prequels. We knew in our hearts it wasn't right, but we wanted so desperately to believe everything would work out for the better. Ignoring our instincts doesn't make this moment less disappointing. Our disappointment was met with front row seats to Thabeet's atrocious rookie campaign, which was only surpassed in mediocrity by Thabeet's sophomore campaign.
3) The Game 1 Loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in the First Round of the 2012 Playoffs
The Grizz fought for home court advantage, and lost it in Game 1 by giving up a 27 point lead in the fourth quarter. This was a nightmare. I can barely speak about it. Let's move on.
2) The 12 Game Playoff Losing Streak from 2004-2006
By 2006, I was quite confident that the Grizzlies would win one playoff game. It was kind of like how I felt when the Grizzlies were up by 27 in Game 1 against the Clippers, but the outcome was even more disappointing. When you lose 12 straight playoff games to start your playoff career, you start to develop a complex.
This year, the Knicks beat the Grizz playoff losing streak by losing 13 straight, but the Grizz still own the record for most losses to start a franchise playoff history. Take that Knicks!
PS the Grizzlies won 50, 46, and 49 regular season games in the stretch where they went 0-12 in the playoffs. The Grizzlies opponents lost a combined 19 playoff games in the years they swept the Grizzlies. (Dallas lost in the finals.)
1) The Trade of Pau Gasol for Kwame Brown and salary cap flexibility.
This trade was terrible in 2008, and the Grizzlies were a laughingstock. This was the biggest disappointment because the Grizzlies inflicted this upon themselves, enabled the Lakers to compete for championships, and Grizz fans had to listen to ridicule from just about everyone in the world for 3 straight seasons, until the improbable emergence of Marc Gasol.